Breakfast Bites: Freezable Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

The week ahead is an exceptionally busy one (and a great way to dive into the New Year, really!) I’ve got work, meetings, appointments, events, my best friend’s birthday- and I still managed to pencil in a little self-care and pampering right before the weekend- so I’m firing on all cylinders right now!

In order to make sure I’m not crashing by noon and keep on maintaining my current level of focus and efficiency- I prepared a delicious, filling breakfast for nearly every morning this week- a meal that can be safely stored in the freezer and reheated whenever I’m ready to get my daily grind started the right way!

Instead of relying on lukewarm drive-thru breakfast sandwiches that are made with questionable meat product and artificial eggs- here’s how to make the real deal with real ingredients at home- and how to keep them fresh in the freezer.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Half & Half Creamer
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 croissants, halved horizontally
  • Thinly sliced ham (check your local deli!)
  • Sliced cheddar cheese, halved

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add eggs to the skillet and cook, whisking, until they just begin to set. Gently whisk in half and half; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue cooking until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, about 3-5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Fill croissants with eggs, ham and cheese to make 4 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
  3. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy a savory breakfast to start your day!

I can’t stress how filling and tasty these sandwiches are- and paired with a hot cup of coffee- they’re exactly what I need to keep me fueled when I’m heading into work first thing in the morning and getting down to business like the no-nonsense boss I am.

You can mix and match ingredients with these sandwiches, too- of course- by substituting the ham with bacon (including turkey bacon), sausage, vegetables, etc. As long as they’re sealed properly and frozen- you’re good to go!

And now that I’ve shared my early A.M. hack- I’m off to get started on my work for the day and prepare for appointments I’ve got lined up this evening. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday- and a lovely and stress-free start to the week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Maple Candied Bacon

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Every once in a while, when my schedule is particularly packed and I’m busier than usual- I like to simplify things so I don’t get overwhelmed. So, when it came time to whip something up for a pre-bachelorette-party-brunch this past Saturday- I opted to keep things super quick and easy- while still maintaining fun, seasonal flavors that everyone would enjoy.

You won’t find many people who will disagree that bacon- which goes with any meal during the day- makes every dish better. But, to keep up with the Fall flare I try to showcase this time of year- I thought I’d incorporate a little maple and brown sugar to keep brunch as Autumnal as possible.

This dish calls for four ingredients and takes little to no time at all to prepare and cook. Seriously- how much better can that get?

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a roasting rack. Lightly spritz the rack with nonstick spray. Lay the bacon on the rack, leaving just a tiny bit of room between each piece.
  2. Brush the bacon with the maple syrup and then sprinkle with the brown sugar. Top with a generous sprinkling of pepper.
  3. Bake until the sugar is melted and the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes (or a little longer if you like it extra crispy). Let the bacon cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the rack and serving.

I love maple-flavored anything, so I drizzled a bit more syrup on top of the bacon when it was finished cooking and added a dash more pepper- and it tasted fantastic! It went fast, in-between mimosas and Bloody Mary’s- so I know I can make it again the next time my friends and I all get together and there won’t be any complaints.

I’ll be re-capping my weekend and all the craziness that came with it a little later on this week- and I’ve also got some more Halloween-appropriate pieces from my wardrobe to share before I head off to Vermont this coming weekend- but I’ve got to get some work done at the office, first!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday and a stress-free start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: June 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’ve never been more relieved that the weekend is here than I am right now. What a whirlwind week it’s been- and it’s going to be so nice to just relax after work today, enjoy a home cooked meal with my family at my mom’s house- and then partake in some pampering and time with friends…

… When I’m not getting my geek on at this weekend’s ComiCONN at Foxwoods on Saturday afternoon, of course!

But while my look back on this month that was will be up on the blog bright and early tomorrow morning before I hit the road to Connecticut- I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been wearing/using/eating/watching/listening to/and otherwise raving about all throughout June.

That’s right- it’s time for my monthly Favorites post!

As always, I’m going to start with the things I could photograph before jumping into the odds, ends, and miscellaneous things that made this past month extra special!

Kicking things off are these adorable, bright and Summery flower sandals I picked up from ModCloth earlier this month. Whenever I wear these, people always stop me to take a better look at them- particularly the huge pink flowers that sit on top of my toes with every step.

These are such fun and comfortable sandals to wear- and I’ve been sporting them at work, at the beach, on dates, and running errands. They’ve become my go-to shoe for the Summer!

And keeping up with my Summer fashion, I had posted earlier this week about one of my latest wardrobe obsessions in the form of comfortable and flattering one-piece bodysuits. I’ve been wearing them with shorts, jeans and skirts pretty much non-stop on the weekends because they’re so easy to dress up/down and are no fuss.

This mini-collection of some of my favorites, amassed during recent trips to Primark, are colorful (with the exception of the black and white one- which is a “dressier” one piece I wear to nighttime functions)– and are perfect for this most hot and humid of New England seasons!

Moving from fashion to beauty/cosmetics- I only had a couple of things that made the list this month (I don’t use a ton of makeup this time of year since it melts off my face in record time!) and both are great products that benefit skin and boost a healthy glow! The first, is this lightweight and non-greasy, oil-free moisturizer with SPF15 from OLAY, which I’ve been wearing under my BB cream.

Formulated for combination/oily skin (AKA- me), this lotion hydrates my skin and protects it from harmful UV rays rays without clogging my pores. It’s also loaded with skin conditioning vitamins, so my face actually feels nice while I’m wearing it.

And at night, I use this gentle facial roller (which I store in the refrigerator during the day to get it nice and cold) to boost circulation and collagen production after I’ve washed my face and applied my serums for the evening. 5-10 minutes of rolling this over my cheeks, down the bridge of my nose and my forehead makes a world of difference!

Best of all? You can find affordable rollers online. You don’t have to break the bank to get anything super fancy. This one was only $2!

Moving onto one food item I was obsessed with this past month, if loving a yogurt is wrong- I don’t want to be right. Yoplait’s new ‘Oui’ yogurts– which are more like a thick custard than a typical creamy texture- are SO good. I’ve been stocking up to eat these with breakfast every day because they’re so delicious and come in a ton of great flavors.

The ‘Oui’ yogurts are non-GMO and come in individual glass pots- which means you can recycle them or reuse them! I started washing mine out for when I bake bite-sized desserts, and others I’ve given to my friends’ kids so they can use them to plant seeds or for arts & crafts projects. It’s so much more rewarding than tossing endless plastic containers away!

And finally- I’m *so* over inflatable unicorn pool floats all over my Instagram feed. This year- I’m bringing you all the pizza slice float. Big enough to hold my grown up self without sinking me but small enough to not take up all the space in the pool- this was a purchase I’d made on a whim at the very beginning of the Summer and I haven’t regretted it one bit.

My friends are actually getting each of their own- and we’re looking into picking up some of these cheeseburger floats, too.

And I think that’s it for the more photogenic favorites for the month of June- but some other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Interpol – “The Rover”: Interpol are undoubtedly one of my favorite bands- and maybe the only band whose lyrics I’d ever consider getting tattooed on me at some point- so when I found out they were releasing a new album in August, entitled ‘Marauder’- I was more than excited. When I heard the first single from the album, “The Rover”- my spirit temporarily left my body because it’s SO good. I can’t stop listening to it.

August feels so far away now!

– GAMES/APPS –

Viridi – Sometimes things can get overwhelming at my job, and the idea of even glancing at social media (and all the craziness that can come with it) when I’m already stressing out and need a break is unheard of. When I can’t meditate or simply take off for weeks at a time on a whim- I turn to Viridi. This botany app, backed by soothing music and soft colors/scenery- lets you grow and tend to virtual plants. It might sound silly, sure- but it’s actually super relaxing and mellows me out when I’m having a rough day.

Also? I can’t grow anything to save my life- so to be able to not immediately kill my plants in a game is refreshing!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Deus Ex Machina – Unfortunately, this immersive theater experience based out of the historical Shea Theater in Turners Falls ended this past weekend, but what an *amazing* show it was! Patrons are whisked away from room to room- sometimes separately and sometimes in pairs or groups- by actors (portraying 1920s era ghosts trapped in the theater) where so many different things are happening at once. There’s music, and dancing, and drinking- and I had the time of my life there.

Think NYC’s “Sleep No More”- but not obscenely expensive and you actually get to see great performances without being overcrowded! I can’t wait until it comes back. Truly.

One of my dearest friends was/is in the cast, and I owe him the biggest thanks for smuggling me in to see the show. I loved it oh so very much.

And I think that’s it for the month of June! And, as I’d mentioned earlier- before we jump into July this coming Sunday, my look back on this past month will be up tomorrow morning before I head out for the weekend! Keep an eye out (weekend posts are easy to miss, ‘ya know!)

Enjoy your Friday, everyone! We made it! Now it’s time to kick back and celebrate!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bakes: Giant Cinnamon Roll

Good Afternoon and Happy Monday, everyone!

When it comes to breakfast and/or brunch, I try to keep things light and healthy so that I don’t feel weighed down for the rest of the day and can still keep busy and active without needing a nap, first. Needless to say, there’s a lot of fruits, nuts and grains involved- as well as the occasional egg or two.

However, sometimes it’s nice to give myself a “cheat day” and indulge in something sweet, sticky or covered in powdered sugar and syrup. With this past weekend marking my friend Stef’s birthday party AND Wrestlemania (I’ll get into those a little later on this week!)- there was a lot of snacking and late-night tasting going on- so I figured I may as well make my “Girls Day” Sunday brunch fun and whipped up this gigantic cinnamon bun to serve.

At 9 inches around, this cinnamon bun is served like a pie- cut into slices- and so, so worth doing some extra crunches for repentance during my next workout.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 5 ounces unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
  • Three 8-ounce tubes crescent roll dough
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, or more as needed

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch oven-safe skillet with the softened butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, light brown sugar, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla to make a smooth paste.
  3. Open the tubes of crescent roll dough and unfurl the contents of each tube into one long, flat piece. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the filling evenly over the entire surface of each piece and then cut in half lengthwise to create two long strips. (You should end up with six strips total.)
  4. Roll one strip into a tight spiral and place it in the center of the prepared skillet. Wrap the remaining pieces of dough around the spiral, working outward, until you’ve used all the dough.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash evenly over the cinnamon roll and then transfer to the oven to bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and remaining 1½ teaspoons vanilla until the mixture reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Add more cream if needed.
  7. Ice the cinnamon roll with the glaze and let set for 5 minutes

I brought some of the leftover slices into work this morning to share with my co-workers who also had a severe case of Monday blues- and it cheered them right up! This is perfect to share, or- if you’re feeling particularly gluttonous (we all do every now and then)– to eat in sections all on your own.

But I am off and hitting the ground running. I took a half day today at work for a couple of appointments- but it’s sunny and cool out- so maybe I’ll take the scenic route to get where I’m going and enjoy the freedom from my office!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Mini Chicken and Waffles

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone- or as happy as Monday mornings can be, really. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that this coming week is an easy one for each of you!

A lot of people around where I live are still recovering from Winter Storm Riley, which blew through the area Friday night/Saturday morning and caused some considerable flooding like I’d never seen before- as well as some long stretches or power outages. I spent a good chunk of my Saturday morning shuttling friends to places with electricity and heat so they could wait out assistance from National Grid (and the National Guard- who were rescuing people that were stranded in the rising waters!)

I’ll get into the aftermath a little later on this week, since it’s only Monday and I want to keep things light this early in the morning. Yesterday, I made time to have a little pre-Oscars brunch/luncheon with some friends where we watched a couple of the nominated films for ‘Best Picture’ and ate snacks. My snack of choice- a bite-sized chicken and waffles recipe I’d had saved for a couple of weeks and had been waiting for an appropriate occasion to try- was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, breakfast and lunch, and small- but filling!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Cooked, fluffy waffles
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1½ pounds chicken tenders, cut into bite-size (about 1-inch) pieces
  • Hot sauce and/or maple syrup, to taste

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a deep, medium-size pot, heat about 3 inches of oil over medium heat until it reads 350°F on a thermometer.
  2. MAKE THE WAFFLES: While the oil heats, make the waffles. Let the waffles cool slightly, then cut them into bite-size (about 1-inch) squares and place them in a 250°F oven to keep warm.
  3. MAKE THE FRIED CHICKEN: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, cayenne pepper, Italian herb seasoning, salt and black pepper to combine. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow, medium-size bowl.
  4. Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat. Working in batches, dip the floured chicken into the buttermilk, then return it to the flour and toss to coat.
  5. Working in batches, add the breaded chicken to the hot frying oil. Don’t overfill the pot with chicken, as it will bring down the temperature of the oil. Fry until the chicken is golden brown and floats on the surface of the oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed if the chicken is browning too quickly.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on several layers of absorbent paper towels. Let cool slightly, then place a piece of chicken on top of a waffle square and secure with a toothpick.
  7. Serve immediately with hot sauce or maple syrup on the side.

I’d nearly forgotten I had some of these leftover star-topped toothpicks in my cupboard, but they were the perfect decorative piece given the Oscar-themed gathering!

These chicken and waffle bites came out fantastic- and were soft, fluffy, and had just enough of a heated kick to them to balance out the sweetness of the syrup I’d drizzled over the ones I was eating. I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe saved for when it’s football season again- since I know these are going to make a great Game Day appetizer!

Have a great Monday and here’s to a wonderful week, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –